Career Serendipity

Written by Peter Spellman, Berklee College of Music


Serendipity often plays a role in our unfolding careers. Just think about the “hinge” moments, significant events and unexpected encounters that set you along the path that brought you to where you are today.


In one study of university graduates almost 70 percent reported that their careers were significantly influenced by unplanned event – in other words, the ‘butterfly effect’ (Krumboltz and Levin, 2004).


My gig at Berklee College of Music came about this way: my pregnant wife went to hear a certain speaker at a La Leche League conference (LLL is an educational and support organization for nursing mothers); the female speaker was delayed and replaced unexpectedly by a gentleman who spoke in her place; after his surprise talk my wife cornered him to ask some questions; over the course of the conversation he asked what I did for a living (freelance musician and business coach); after my wife telling him so he related to her that his wife was heading a search committee at Berklee that was looking to hire a music career development specialist; that evening my wife told me about this opportunity and I reluctantly called the following day. I inquired about the position and the gentleman’s wife told me they had received over sixty resumes and that the deadline was the following day! I quickly cobbled a resume together (my first – hey, I’d always worked for myself), dropped it off the next day, eventually got called in to two separate interviews, and then was finally offered the position.

I, of course, accepted it and it has turned out to be the closest thing to a ‘perfect fit’ I could imagine.

What should our response to this be? Is all the career planning we do – the job exploration, self assessment exercises, and role modeling –  all in vain? Not at all. The words of scientist Louis Pasteur come to mind here: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”  We must plan to be lucky and prepare ourselves –  mentally, emotionally, spiritually – for that surprise out of left field.

What are your thoughts?


About Peter Spellman
Peter Spellman found his way into music as a guitarist in various New York bands and then switched to drums after seeing the Police perform in the late 1970s. Since then he’s performed and recorded with reggae outfit, The Mighty Charge, world music ensemble Friend Planet, and now with the Underwater Airport crew. He’s scored films for the National Science Foundation, composed video games for Massachusetts General Hospital, and coaches music entrepreneurs at Berklee College of Music. He is author of “The Self Promoting Musician” and “Indie Business Power: A Step by Step Guide for 21st Century Music Entrepreneurs”. Find him at


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